As a youngster growing up in Chicago, Julian Wright followed the fortunes of just one NBA team: the Bulls.
"It was Michael Jordan and all the guys on the Bulls' roster. I couldn't tell you about any other teams in the league," former Kansas University forward/proud Windy City native Wright said.
"I was familiar with some of the (league's other) star players from playing video games. And I knew some of the Knicks and Pistons because they were rivals of the Bulls.
"I didn't start following the NBA closely until Scottie Pippen left Chicago for Houston (1998)," Wright added. "I said, 'It's time for me to catch up.'''
Still a Bulls fan, the 6-foot-9 Wright on Thursday night just might be added to the roster of his favorite squad.
Wright, who a majority of analysts say is a projected lottery pick (top 14) in the 2007 NBA Draft, could remain on the board at the time of Chicago's pick - ninth overall.
"It could be good. There are pluses and minuses in any situation," Wright said, noting "the Bulls are a young team getting better and better.
"Really it doesn't matter. I'm cool playing in any situation. Only God knows what the future holds. The way I see it is I'm blessed to be in the position I'm in now. I'll cherish the moment. Wherever I go, I will try to help the organization become the best team. I'll try to get acclimated to the city as quickly as possible if it's not Chicago. If it's not Chicago, I'll get used to another city and take it from there."
There are plenty of intriguing possibilities.
The best fit for the speedy player?
"I would say the Western Conference, somewhere up-tempo, get up and down the floor," Wright said. "The NBA game is getting smaller in terms of positions. It might be best for me (to be in West) in terms of matchups. Golden State is a new-age team now, get up and down the floor and attack the perimeter - a perimeter-oriented team with a solid point guard who can distribute the ball.
What the experts are saying
Here are some experts' opinions on where Kansas University's Julian Wright will be tapped in Thursday's NBA Draft:Ray Glier, MSNBC: No. 8 to CharlotteTony Mejia, CBS Sportsline: No. 8 to CharlotteChris Eckstrand, Sports Illustrated: No. 10 to SacramentoShawn Siegel, Collegehoops.net: No. 10 to SacramentoSean Devaney, Sporting News: No. 11 to AtlantaGary Parrish, CBS Sportsline: No. 11 to AtlantaJeff Goodman, Fox Sports: No. 12 to PhiladelphiaAnthony Maggio, fanball.com: No. 12 to PhiladelphiaJeff Reynolds, CBS Sportsline: No. 12 to PhiladelphiaRich Zuckerman, NBC: No. 12 to PhiladelphiaPeter Schrager, Fox Sports: No. 13 to New Orleansx-Chad Ford, ESPN: No. 14 to Los Angeles ClippersJeff Lenchiner, Insidehoops.com: No. 14 to Los Angeles ClippersHoopsaddict.com: No. 14 to Los Angeles ClippersJonathan Givony, Draftexpress.com: No. 16 to WashingtonChristopher Reina, RealGM.com: No. 16 to WashingtonNBAdraft.net: No. 16 to WashingtonSam Amico, ProBasketballNews.com: No. 18 to Golden Statex-ESPN's Chad Ford, who said he heard Wright's draft stock was slipping on Monday, changed his tune Tuesday. "I think he's still in the picture with Milwaukee at No. 6," Ford said. "Also, the Bulls are considering him at No. 9 and the Kings appear to really like him at No. 10. If he slips below 10, I think teams will be making a big mistake. I don't see him getting past the Clippers at No. 14."
"A team like Phoenix would be good, especially me getting started. Up-tempo is better than halfcourt or slowdown. When you talk about teams," Wright continued, "I feel like this draft is so deep that me and any other player can bring a lot to the teams in the lottery. I feel like I can contribute and start and be involved in the community wherever I go."
Wright, who averaged 12.0 points off 54.9 percent shooting with 7.8 rebounds his sophomore year for 33-5 KU, believes he can help an NBA team in various ways.
"I'm a little bit versatile. It's what I've been my whole life. My value is higher when I can do different things. I'll play multiple positions," Wright said. "It's all about matchups in the NBA, who can exploit who in different situations.
"If you watched the playoffs, teams doing well were playing small. It's getting smaller and more skilled. It's not prototypical power teams anymore. In the 90s, big teams banged inside. Now guys do a lot of things well. I hope I am able to contribute in a lot of ways on the floor."
KU coach Bill Self agrees Wright's versatility likely will be on display next season in the NBA.
"I think it depends on who drafts him," Self said of Wright's eventual position. "I think he's a 3-man (small forward). The game is getting smaller and smaller. Watching Golden State play, a guy Julian's size may play the 5 (center). Stephen Jackson (6-8) actually did that some for them.
"With a team like Phoenix, Shawn Marion (6-7) is their 4 (power forward). Julian is probably bigger than Shawn. I think Julian is just a 'player.' I think it's one of his biggest attributes. He can fit in multiple styles, play different spots, but his natural position if you had to label it is a 3-man that has some post skills as opposed to a post man who has 3-man skills."
Self, who believes Wright will be a lottery pick, says Wright's ballhandling skills will be a plus.
"He is a good ballhandler, he's just unorthodox," Self said. "He looks like he's going to lose it but usually doesn't. He's the best interior passer I've ever been around. You talk about the intangibles, he has a great attitude and work ethic. He is a great teammate. Throw in quick-twitch, vision, the length. He has things so attractive I can't imagine him not being a good pro."
The intangibles figure to make Wright somebody the NBA can be proud of.
"I feel I have more than ability. I can be an ambassador for the NBA," he said. "I'm a quality person. I'll try to help the league out. They are bringing more high-character guys in. I will try to promote the NBA."
He'll start during his interview with ESPN after getting selected in Thursday's draft, to start at 6:30 p.m. He plans to be in Madison Square Garden with his parents and other family members.
"The people who helped me, it'll be more about them, a time to show my gratitude to them for helping me. It will be great to be with the people who helped me become a better player and person," the humble Wright said.